Originally published in France as Pour en finir avec le cinéma, So Long, Silver Screen is, amazingly, the first full-length work by Blutch to be translated into English. Blutch began his professional comics career 25 years ago and has published over a dozen books, all to wide acclaim, so it is hard to greet this volume with anything other than, "It's about time!" Our thanks – and doubtless that of many others – goes out to PictureBox for at last bringing this artist to the English speaking world. Blutch is a gifted tale spinner and delineator, whose legendary comics work has inspired and influenced many artists, notably Craig Thompson, who, by way of introducing him to American audiences, has interviewed Blutch, here. So Long, Silver Screen combines a knowledge of European visual art and literary culture with a love of movies to forge a meditation on the place of cinéma in our lives. This is a work that is, unsurprisingly, highly French in character, and so will, naturally, be especially enjoyed by Franophiles, and likely disdained by Francophobes. We feel confident that those who enjoy fine comics and whose leanings are neither one way or another on the issue of la culture française will be swayed by the uniformly high quality of this fine volume.
The second volume in the New York Review's just launched line of comics also happens to be only the second work by the major league Bande Dessinée creator, Blutch to be translated into English and published in North America. In Peplum, Blutch uses comics to take on a raft of ideas, notions, dreams and conceits that have accreted around the historical memory of ancient Rome and weaves them together in a pen and ink tapestry that brings with it a host of fresh perspectives.
We were excited enough by this book's publication that we ordered it – from France – in it's original French language release (resulting in us charging more than twice as much as we are for this North American release!). While, of course, there have been comics about jazz in the past – some of the best of which, intriguingly, have also originated in Europe – in Total Jazz, Blutch, comics master that he is, has done more than most to bring the spirit of jazz to its representation in comics form; working towards translating the jazz ethos of improvisation within formal compositions into the language of comics. While many of the short pieces collected here are brief anecdotes with varying degrees of both sly and straightforward humor, there is a variability in their representational modes that, again, embodies the jazz spirit of experimentation and risk taking. Taken together as a whole, Total Jazz is a comics milestone.